The only HealthSouth Corp. executive convicted by a jury was sentenced to eight years in prison last week. It's the longest sentence handed out to anyone implicated in the health care company's $2.7 billion accounting fraud.

Lawyers for former vice president Hannibal "Sonny" Crumpler, who was convicted in November on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to auditors, said that they would appeal the harshness of the sentence. Prosecutors, who had asked the judge to send Crumpler to jail for 15 years, said they may appeal for the sentence's leniency.

Former finance chief Bill Owens had received the case's longest prison term, five years, after pleading guilt to having a role in the fraud and cooperating with prosecutors. Crumpler had talked to prosecutors, but was found guilty of lying to agents about his own role in the scheme.

The judge handing down the jail time, U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins, read off a list of the sentences of more than 40 executives convicted in frauds at a number of companies -- saying that the punishment was in line with national trends.

The only other executive to go to trial, former chief executive Richard Scrushy, was acquitted on all charges a year ago. Others who pleaded guilty in the HealthSouth fraud received shorter prison terms or a combination of house arrest, probation, fines and financial forfeitures.

Previously on WebCPA:

Final Ex-HealthSouth CFO Gets 5 Years (Dec. 13, 2005)

Next Scrushy Trial Set for 2007 (Dec. 6, 2005)

HealthSouth's Crumpler to Pay $1.3M; Scrushy in Court Again (Dec. 2, 2005)

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